The modern era, in which European tribes conquered and colonized the rest of the world, was based on time and the accurate measurement thereof. The development of the escapement mechanism allowed sailors to determine their longitude east and west, facilitating the age of “discovery.” The industrial revolution was based on defining time for the masses and coordinating their work day with clock chimes, factory whistles and the personal alarm clock, all to get the workers to the job on time.
Once mankind decided to keep time, the temptation to meddle with the clock became unbearable. Various nations declared their own time; Nepal, for instance, counts the exact number of minutes and seconds for Katmandu from the Greenwich mean time, but only westerners bother to wear watches and there are few clocks outside of the city.
In an effort to boost industrial production for the war effort of 1916, Americans were urged to set their clocks ahead as soon as daylight came early enough to begin work. Cartoons of the era portrayed the Kaiser plowing his field while Uncle Sam was still in bed with an alarm clock ringing frantically.
The interests of the boss class in early shifts preserved this practice until recently when it was determined that Daylight Savings Time allowed the workers extra leisure time after hours to spend on entertainment and shopping, the new staples of consumer capitalism in the post-industrial age. The entire barbecue industry is based on long summer evenings for cooking outside, and the volume of charcoal, hot dog buns and beer is no insignificant part of the gross national product come spring.
Psychologically, folks in the northern climes tend to recover from the winter depression caused by sunlight deprivation as soon as dawn comes early enough to make coffee without turning on the kitchen lights. Just as our attitude brightens with the light of day, our government, in its wisdom, snatches back an hour, reminding us just who’s in charge after all.
I had a friend once who observed the seasonal adjustments by taking an extra hour of sleep in spring but paying it back five minutes at a time in the fall. He kept his watch set for the time he had left on paying back his hour, and took the time for extra lunch or leaving work early. Not much of a rebellion, but a gesture that allowed him some small satisfaction.
For myself, I try to remember Dan O’Nell’s dictum: “Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like bananas!”
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views.